Imagine this: You’ve been on your A-game lately, working tirelessly to meet deadlines. You constantly go over your daily tasks to make sure no stone goes unturned. You obsess over and analyze every detail of your work. Sounds stressful? This would drain anyone. And mental exhaustion can happen to anyone who’s been exposed to long-term stress.
Of course, this situation most likely happens at work. A study found that 44% of employees admitted to occasionally feeling burned out at work, while 23% claim to be burned out much more often. And statistics show that more than 75% of visits to the doctors are stress and work-related, statistics show.
Burnout is definitely the culprit when it comes to exhausted, stressed-out, overworked employees. But what does it really mean? What can we do to overcome it? How to recover from burnout?
What Is Burnout?
If you often feel exhausted both mentally and physically, especially while at work or doing work tasks, you might be burned out.
Burnout is work-related stress accompanied by a host of symptoms you definitely want to know about. Although it’s not a medical illness, it will certainly affect your physical and mental state, and it’s good to be aware of whether or not it’s affecting you.
You see, loving your job and being happy about it is part of the whole process, but there are unfortunate moments when you’ll get exposed to a lot of stressors at the workplace. For instance: the tasks your job demands, the struggle to reach the daily quota, office romance, and a lot more.
In this piece, we are going to talk about the “symptoms” and how to recover from burnout.
Signs & Symptoms Of Burnout
Here are the signs that you might need to take it easy on yourself:
- You feel unmotivated to do or finish any tasks
- You’re exhausted and feel drained ALL THE TIME
- Your productivity has slowed down immensely
- You’re most likely to develop a bad temper
- You tend to be pretty pessimistic about everything
These are some of the signs you need to watch out for if you’re starting to feel burned out at work. It’s not a lost cause, though; there are plenty of tricks on how to overcome burnout.
In order to defeat stress or work burnout, you need to be fully invested in these approaches to actually work. Quitting your job is not the solution, either. You would just be putting a bandaid on the burnout wound without looking at what caused it, and how to stop it. So, let’s take a look at some of the tools you can utilize in your work routine to overcome burnout.
Know your boundaries
Limit the work you usually take. Don’t fully commit if you don’t think you can do it.
Taking your work home is not a good practice either. Although, if we’re talking about the “New Normal” post-pandemic, taking your work at home is not the stumbling block here — it’s most likely the quantity of the tasks you commit to.
Making proper decisions when your brain is cluttered and clouded with noise and “stuff” is extremely complicated. You have the amygdala to thank for that, an area of the brain that contributed to emotional processing, and is known to be incredibly vulnerable to stress.
That’s why setting up boundaries for yourself is crucial in clearing your head, and is a great way to recover from burnout. Here are some of the things you can do to set limits:
- Make a list of the things you need to deal with for the day -— household chores included (given the current situation)
- Try to finish the tasks within working hours. If you’re still not able to finish the whole week’s task within the allotted period, there must be something wrong in your routine you need to circle back to.
- Determine the importance of each task. Establish a time frame for each task. Do you need to send it to your boss at a certain time? What happens if you skip that assignment?
- Make an overview of your weekly tasks. Creating a spreadsheet for your overall responsibilities is one way to lessen the burden on your brain. You will have something to set your mind to doing on a daily basis, without having to think about it.
- Check off all the unnecessary work. Once you’ve listed down all the tasks you have to deal with, take a moment to remove the non-work-related ones that might jeopardize your productivity. If you’re used to checking your social media every now and then, you can practice cutting that activity during work hours. Not only is it a major distraction, but it’s also negatively affecting your efficiency. Check that off your list.
Setting up boundaries not only lets you take a breather, but will also give you some more space and leisure time.
Another step on how to recover from burnout is to clean your workspace. This may sound contradictory to alleviating stress and giving yourself more time in the day, but decluttering and clearing your space of any unnecessary objects can also lessen your mental burnout.
Set that pile of papers aside or make some DIY drawers to organize your clutter. Here are the ways you can do to lessen the litter:
- Gather the supplies. Get yourself a box you can put all your supplies in, and set it aside for picking and choosing later on.
- Pick and choose. Once you’ve gathered all the supplies from your messy desk, you can then move on to choosing which ones should be returned back on and which ones are to be tossed (or kept — worth wise). I understand the value of things, so getting a box to store your things in is a safe and valuable practice.
- Check for “under-the-desk” clutter. If you’re the type of person who puts things under the desk in the hopes of remembering to put it away later, then you probably have some clutter to take care of. Get yourself a trash bin so you don’t have to keep putting litter under the desk where it doesn’t belong.
- Wipe it down. Before putting anything back on your table, make sure you clean it thoroughly — spotless — so you won’t need to worry about any accumulated dust until the next “dust development”.
- Allot a cleaning day. To avoid the possible development of any debris, practice regular decluttering. You’ve done it the first time, you can do it again.
Unloading your desk of any potential stress triggers not only increases your work rate but also reduces the chance of burnout.
Unwinding after a long, draining day at work is nothing short of therapeutic. Science states that incorporating something relaxing after work is good for our health.
You can unload all the stress you’ve accumulated for the day which is good for a lot of reasons — may it be a day at the office or the “New Normal” day working from home.
According to a connoisseur and productivity author Robert Pozen, a break lasting 75 to 90 minutes is the recommended period of time for increasing concentration and productivity at work.
Furthermore, getting much-desired “calmness” and relaxation contributes to better sleep at night. There’s a lot of activities you can do to unload a bucket of stress besides the usual Netflix and chill we do at the end of each day.
That being said, here are some relaxing activities you can do to aid you to sleep better and to recover from burnout:
- Disconnect. This usually means disengaging from any work-related pursuits. Take the time to unwind and free your mind from the assignments and projects. You can help yourself do this by going back to our first step on this list — avoid bringing work anywhere with you. Unless of course, you’re a digital nomad.
- Meditate. As simple and/or bland as it sounds, meditating results in a host of benefits, more than you may realize. Meditation not only improves creativity and focus, but it also improves our mood, thus making it one of the most valuable activities you can do to recover from burnout.
- Grab a book. Reading is known for its effect on diminishing stress. Apart from helping with concentration, it’s a quick and healthy escape from reality and life stressors. It’s also good for our mental health, doctors suggest.
- Take a long, hot bath. A surgeon commented that a hot bath can relieve the symptoms of muscle contraction due to stress, keeping the muscles loose. An hour-long dip in a hot bath may help improve blood sugar level, burn calories, and pain reduction.
There’s still so much you can do to make use of your leisure time after work, but it depends on your comfortability and availability. You can definitely go for whatever is at your comfort level, and that’s okay. Recovering from burnout takes time and fortitude, so take it at your own pace.
Acknowledging and accepting that you are indeed exhausted is the most important aspect of overcoming burnout.
Once you’ve recognized that you are in the midst of burnout, you are then able to re-asses your goals, and form strategies on how to overcome it.
Talking to your peers and employer about what you’re going through is another way of improving your situation. Since burnout happens after long exposure to stress at work, being upfront about it will ultimately give you comfort.
If you’ve done all that and you’re still burned out, you can consider going to an expert for career counseling. They can help you target the root cause of your burnout and what to do to overcome them. This method is one of the easiest ways to recover from burnout as your coach will help guide you through.
Accepting your situation does not necessarily mean having the immunity to endure and just let things flow. You must consider being open to possible help and alterations on your routine. Who knows, learning a thing or two on how to recover from burnout might be a great turning point in your career.